No state budget means problems for public schools, community colleges

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – With state lawmakers still trying to finalize a budget, Community Colleges and school districts across the East are forced to make difficult decisions.

With classes set to start over the next two weeks, many districts have had to proceed with caution as they prepare for the upcoming school year.

“We’ve met with our administrators and we’ve met with the leaders across the county and we’ve told them to expect about 50 percent of their budget, at least until we know for sure what we’re going to be dealing with on the state side,” said Don Phipps, Beaufort County School’s Superintendent.

Phipps said over the years, they’ve been able to cut back on Teacher Assistants (TA) through attrition, but knows that may not be enough this year.

“We’re at a point where we’re going to run out of money in the fund and we’re not going to continue to employ those individuals,” he said.

Last week, Pitt County Schools announced they were cutting 25 TA positions, 14 of which through attrition.

Lenoir County School officials said they were holding open 30 TA positions until they found out what the budget looked like.

Onslow County Schools have already suspended the Drivers Ed. program, been selective in hiring teachers, and left vacant TA positions open.

On June 30th, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly passed a Continuing Budget Authority to allow state operations to continue through August 14. Since then, Craven County Schools have used those funds conservatively in Central Office Administration, textbooks, Teacher Assistants, and At Risk Student Funds.

The lack of a budget is also impacting Community Colleges across the state. With tuition increases expected, it’s possible students would have to pay more than they already had for the Fall semester.

Susan Nobles, VP of Institutional Advancement at Pitt Community College, said in her 28 years at the school, they have only had to go back and re-bill students once.

Nobles said they are expecting between a $2 and $4 increase per credit hour, but is optimistic those changes wouldn’t take effect until the Spring semester.

“We never ever want that to happen, but if that’s the only way the legislature can pay for the costs, we understand,” Nobles said.

She said the two big issues in the budget for Community Colleges are year round funding, and pay increases for staff.

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